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NKU Announces Campus Edge Project, St. Elizabeth to Occupy Large Building

Northern Kentucky University revealed the plan for its main entrance from U.S. 27, which include a mixed-use development and professional office building along the intersection with Nunn Drive.

NKU made the announcement on Monday with development partner Fairmount Properties.

The project is described as a "town center"-style district, located on the south side of Nunn Drive and the campus gateway in Highland Heights. When completed, it will feature new restaurants, retail space, market-rate apartments, a hotel, structured parking, a new gathering spaces for the public.

In a news release, the university said that it hopes to include walkable amenities for students while also enhancing the Highland Heights community.

On the north side of Nunn Drive there will be a 70,000-sq. ft. professional office building that will be occupied by St. Elizabeth Healthcare.

“This development will energize the entrance to the university and transform it into a regional gathering place for both the campus and the community. We want this town center to serve as a bridge with Highland Heights by creating a walkable retail and commercial center that everyone can enjoy,” said Gerry St. Amand, NKU's interim president. “The town center project will make NKU more welcoming and appealing to future students. It’s also an important step toward integrating our campus more fully into the life of the city NKU calls home – Highland Heights.”     

The medical office building, located on the north side of Nunn Drive, will fill a considerable need for health care support and care within the community, the university stated. The details of the services to be offered have not been finalized, but St. Elizabeth plans to offer urgent care, primary care, and specialty physicians at the Highland Heights location. 

In addition, OrthoCincy will be leasing a portion of the building for an onsite orthopedic office, physical therapy, and other emergent orthopedic services. 

“There is a great deal of positive momentum throughout our region and particularly at NKU with the Health Innovation Center opening this summer.  As northern Kentucky continues to grow in both residential and student population, the need for additional health services will grow along with it.  This exciting development is just one more step in St. Elizabeth’s partnership with NKU to make northern Kentucky one of the healthiest communities in the country,” said Garren Colvin, St. Elizabeth Healthcare president and CEO.

The development team is led by Fairmount Properties, a firm that specializes in creating high-quality, mixed-use “campus edge” developments across the country.

New retail, restaurant, and hospitality amenities are planned for the district while the proposed residential units are being designed to appeal to area professionals, medical and graduate students, as well as NKU faculty and staff.

“We are truly grateful to have been welcomed into this community to help execute a vision resulting from vital stakeholder input. Today’s exciting milestone is another step towards a shared goal and we are proud to be part of such a collaborative effort with our partners at NKU, the City of Highland Heights, Campbell County, St. Elizabeth and others throughout the community. From the beginning, it has been critical that this development reflects the community’s wants and needs,” said Randy Ruttenberg, principal at Fairmount Properties. “There is more work to be done but there is a buzz around NKU and the energy in this region is contagious.”

“A town center at the intersection of NKU and Highland Heights will be another highlight in Campbell County and provide an additional destination for the region,” said Campbell County Judge/Executive Steve Pendery. “There has been a lot of anticipation around what will be developed on this site, and I look forward to seeing this project take shape.”   

Highland Heights Mayor Greg Meyers said that the town center project aligns with the city’s comprehensive plan and knowing that this development fits with the city’s land use goals helps to ease some minds in the community.     

“Encouraging more mixed use development and integrating our planning, policy and zoning efforts with NKU are goals we identified in our comprehensive plan. This development fits directly with what the city deemed to be important factors in shaping our future,” said Meyers. “The university’s growth and prosperity is very good for our city, and vice versa. We look forward to continuing this mutually beneficial relationship.”

The development team is continuing its leasing, planning and due diligence efforts, including a careful study of proposed development impacts associated with traffic, parking and other related considerations.  A ground breaking for the initial phase of the development is expected in mid-2018.  

-Staff report

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